Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
- Mark 1:14-15

Friday, May 10, 2013

Adversity vs. Prosperity

Job's friends thought that God simply blessed those who did good and cursed those who do evil.  When adversity hit Job, they wrongly assumed it was due to sin in his life.  Job knew this was not the case:

I am innocent, but they call me a liar.  My suffering is incurable, though I have not sinned.
Job 34:6

Jeremiah was at the other end.  He saw the prosperity of the wicked and was perplexed:

Righteous are You, O LORD, that I would plead my case with You; Indeed I would discuss matters of justice with You: Why has the way of the wicked prospered?  Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease?
Jeremiah 12:1

God is holy, just, and righteous.  He will punish sin and He can do it here on earth or He will most certainly do it in eternity.  He will also bless faithfulness.  However, they are no guarantees of blessing for Christians for their time on earth.  Scripture clearly teaches the opposite: we should expect adversity during our time on earth. 

Here are some verses:

Does not the Most High send both calamity and good?
Lamentations 3:38

And since we are His children, we are His heirs.  In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.
Romans 8:17

For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.
Philippians 1:29

And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM.  FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES."  It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Hebrews 12:5-8

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps.
1 Peter 2:21

Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
1 Peter 5:9

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

God uses adversity to test and reveal what is inside of us.  Adversity itself is a blessing since we receive blessing through our suffering in following Christ.  He uses adversity to purify, cleanse, and refine us.  God uses adversity to develop endurance and make us into who He wants us to be.  God uses adversity to break us down, so we will turn to God and rely on Him, instead of relying on self.  Finally, God glorifies Himself, shames our enemies, and shows His justice through our adversity. 

Do Not Love the World

Obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 
1 Peter 1:9

1 Peter 1:9 tells us that the very outcome or goal of our faith is salvation—not prosperity, good relationships, or a better life in this world.  There are many promises given to us in the Bible, but the greatest promise of them all is salvation and the message of the gospel. 

“You hear people urging others to come to Christ: come to Christ so that you can get forgiveness, come to Christ so that you can get heaven, come to Christ so that you can get satisfaction, come to Christ so that you can get success, come to Christ so that you can get your best life, come to Christ so that you can get all the things you’ve ever dreamed of.  Blasphemy!  You come to Christ to get God!  We have taken God Himself out of the gospel and given His gifts instead!  You say, “What do you mean?”  Ladies and gentlemen, do you think it’s possible in our day to be more satisfied with the things of God than we are with God Himself?  To be more consumed with the things of God than we are with God Himself?  We have taken God, Himself, out of the gospel and rejoiced in His gifts.  This is wrong!  Ladies and gentlemen, you will not go to heaven if you don’t want God!  God is the gift of the gospel!  He gives us Himself!”

David Platt

Man's greatest need is not prosperity, it is to be saved from the eternal condemnation that his sins deserve.  The things of this world are nothing in comparison to eternal life and the message of the gospel.  The gospel and the world are in direct opposition to one another.  You cannot hold onto both, you must serve one and reject the other.  1 John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world or the things of the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  Those who love the world are not of God, and the worldly gospel they hold on to is no gospel at all.  You must examine your hearts and repent if Christ and His glorious salvation are not enough for you.